Each day, we’re often asked this simple question: “how are you?” How many times do you answer that question with a “fine”, rather than answering honestly? My guess is you reply most times with the standard “fine” or some variation of “fine” whether you’re fine or not. Why do we default to this response? Oftentimes the person asking the question is not listening for the answer. They are just making small talk to be polite.
I have written in the past about relationships and as you may have guessed I am a big proponent of building them. This can be done with small talk; it has its place in developing relationships. Small talk is more enjoyable when both parties engage in it, are present in the conversation, and it’s not just about words filling the air to kill time.
Small talk can be a doorway to deeper conversation, though the challenge is asking deeper questions and listening actively to the response. For instance, my friend asked what I had learned since my previous birthday. Rather than just asking me how my birthday was, his question was thought provoking. It made me reflect on the year and my answer revealed what was important to me, leading to a deeper conversation rather than me simply responding “fine.” This weekend, I challenge you to turn your standard “how are you?” into “what excited you today?” or “what was good about today?” and create a deeper conversation.
“A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want.” David Whyte
Have a great weekend.